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Giles Thomas - BSc (Hons) Music & New Media Technology, 2008

In 2012, Giles was working from his bedroom, five years later he was featured as one of the top 35 ecommerce experts in the world.

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After completing his undergraduate degree, Giles went on to work for Revolution Viewing, a digital agency based in Leeds where he worked for two years as Head of Design and Development. He started freelancing in late 2011, before founding his agency Whole Design Studios the following year.

Whole Studio Designs focusses on e-commerce businesses who are looking to grow with monthly marketing services which include Instagram marketing, Facebook marketing, SEO and conversion optimisation. Each month they work with over 50 businesses based in the US, Australia, UK and EU.

Giles said “The agency has grown to over 30 employees, with the move from freelance to agency coming organically out of the growth of my business – more client requests naturally caused the need for more skilled workers.

“Having worked in collaborative groups throughout my degree at Leeds Beckett, I was already experience in teamwork and team dynamics. This helped me to understand what qualities to look for in team members and how to manage them and their expectations.”

“Having worked in collaborative groups throughout my degree at Leeds Beckett, I was already experience in teamwork and team dynamics. This helped me to understand what qualities to look for in team members and how to manage them and their expectations.”

Whole Design Studios isn’t your average digital agency. Most of the staff work remotely, distributed in over 15 countries, and in addition to working and travelling, they meet up regularly to learn together. They also have a strong focus on education in the e-commerce industry, having created two well-known blogs AcquireConvert.com and RisePro.co as well as a professional training course ConversionMachine.co.

Giles said “Whilst I have the freedom to travel and surf quite a bit, being your own boss is not as comfortable or simple as some people might think. The first step in creating any new role within the business is to do the job yourself first, learn the processes and create guides for your staff to follow – so any misconceptions about relaxing whilst other people do the work can be thrown out of the window.

“My biggest realisation about working for myself was the need to balance work and life which means investing time and money in, not only my physical health, but my mental health too. I find myself most productive when following a daily routine – I meditate, journal, work out, track what I eat and make sure I get a lot of sleep. Without these daily tasks as a base to my working day I can struggle to manage stress, mental and physical health and in turn, the business.

“We also encourage our staff to consider how they spend time away from work and will soon be implementing a profit sharing system where some of the profits will be invested in memorable experiences or further education for staff – having seen in other organisations that simply gifting the money to staff has no lasting impact.”

This year Whole Design Studios are working on diversifying the business towards information and educational products in the form of more online courses in marketing.

Giles said “We are also developing a number of ecommerce templates in the form of Shopify website themes which we will sell to clients and the wider community. This is the part of the business that I most enjoy and where I spend most of my time as I have complete creative control and no budget restraints.”

On a personal level, Giles has been awarded membership of the Google Expert Program – a curated list of the world’s leading experts in user-experience, product and marketing – where he also teaches young companies on growth as the head marketing mentor at the Google business accelerator and incubator, Launchpad, mentoring in places from Munich to Jakarta. He plans to continue to travel and surf, this year stopping in Bali, Thailand and Spain before heading to San Francisco to attend the annual Shopify conference then moving onto Los Angeles to check out the West Coast beach life.

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